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14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written:


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14. And Jesus having found a young ass. This part of the history is more minutely related by the other Evangelists, who tell us, that Christ sent two of his disciples to bring an ass, (Matthew 21:1; Mark 11:1; Luke 19:29.) John, who was the latest writer of all the Evangelists, reckoned it enough to notice briefly the substance of what had been stated by the rest; and, on this account, he leaves out many circumstances. An apparent contradiction, by which many persons are perplexed, is very easily removed. When Matthew says, that Christ sat upon a she-ass and her colt, we ought to view it as a synecdoche. 1313     “C’est une facon de parler qui comprend quelques fois le tout pour une partie, ou une partie pour le tout.” — “It is a mode of expression, which sometimes puts the whole for a part, or a part for the whole.” Some imagine that he sat first on the she-ass, and afterwards on her colt; and out of this conjecture they frame an allegory, that he first sat on the Jewish people, who had been long accustomed to bear the yoke of the Law, and afterwards. subdued the Gentiles, like an untrained young ass which had never carried a rider. 1414     See Harmony of the Evangelists, vol. 2, p. 448. But the plain truth is, that Christ rode on an ass which had been brought along with its mother; and to this agree the words of the Prophet, who, by a repetition very frequent among the Hebrews, expresses the same thing twice by different words. On an ass, he says, and on the colt of an ass which was under the yoke, (ὑποζυγίου) Our Evangelist, who studies brevity, leaves out the former clause, and quotes only the latter.

The Jews themselves are constrained to expound the prediction of Zechariah 9:9, which was at that time fulfilled, as referring to the Messiah; but, at the same time, they ridiculed us for being led astray by the shadow of an ass, 1515     The shadow of an ass, ὄνου σκιὰ, asini umbra, was a proverbial phrase, among the Greeks and Romans. — Ed a so as to give the honor of the Messiah to the son of Mary. But far different are the testimonies on which our faith rests. And, indeed, when we say that Jesus is the Messiah, we do not begin by saying, that he entered into Jerusalem sitting on an ass; for there was displayed in him a glory, such as belonged to the Son of God, as we have seen under the first chapter of this Gospel; 1616     Vol. 1, p. 47. and it was chiefly in his resurrection that his Divine power was illustriously displayed. But we ought not to despise this confirmation, that God, by his wonderful Providence, exhibited on that entrance, as on a public stage, the fulfillment of that which Zechariah had foretold.

Fear not. In these words of the Prophet, as the Evangelist quotes them, we ought to observe, first, that never is tranquillity restored to our minds, or fear and trembling banished from them, except by knowing that Christ reigns amongst us. The words of the Prophet, indeed, are different; for he exhorts believers to gladness and rejoicing. But the Evangelist has here described the manner in which our hearts exult with true joy. It is, when that fear is removed, with which all must be tormented, until, being reconciled to God, they obtain that peace which springs from faith, (Romans 5:1.) This benefit, therefore, comes to us through Christ, that, freed from the tyranny of Satan, the yoke of sin being broken, guilt canceled, and death abolished, we freely boast, relying on the protection of our King, since they who are placed under his guardianship ought not to fear any danger. Not that we are free From fear, so long as we live in the world, but because confidence, founded on Christ, rises superior to all than. Though Christ was still at a distance, yet the Prophet exhorted the godly men of that age to be glad and joyful, because Christ was to come. Behold, said he, thy King will come; therefore fear not. Now that he is come, in order that we may enjoy his presence, we ought more vigorously to contend with fear, that, freed from our enemies, we may peacefully and joyfully honor our King.

Daughter of Zion. The Prophet addressed Zion in his own time, because that was the habitation and abode of the Church. God has now, indeed, collected a Church for himself out of the whole world; but this promise is peculiarly addressed to believers, who submit to Christ, that he may reign in them. When he describes Christ as riding on an ass, the meaning is, that his kingdom will have nothing in common with the pomp, splendor, wealth, and power of the world; and it was proper that this should be made known by an outward manifestation, that all might be fully assured that it is spiritual.




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